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Over the weekend I received an email from a reader who was in a bit of a pickle because meeting the minimum spending requirement on their new Amex card is proving more difficult than they thought. I don’t have all the details of which Amex and what the minimum spending requirement is, but they are hitting a wall since their daycare doesn’t take Amex and their utilities don’t accept Amex. I’m still in the middle of exchanging emails to try to help that person, but it made me think about our strategy in timing credit card applications and minimum spending requirements.
When timing credit card applications I primarily look at three issues: 1. The offers that are out there. I like to time my applications with great offers I want to take advantage of. I won’t just get new cards because it has been a few months – there have to be offers that I really want. 2. My credit score and credit inquiry situation has to be right for a new card (or two). My credit score takes a decent hit when I apply for credit cards, so I like to give it at least a few months to rebound some before doing any additional applications. Plus, banks get antsy when you have multiple recent credit inquiries, so it makes sense to wait at least three months between applications. 3. And finally, when possible, I tie my applications that have hefty minimum spending requirements to a time when I am planning on making large purchases anyway. All three of those three points are equally important for me, and unless you take all three into consideration, you may find yourself in a frustrating position like the family who recently emailed me.
I didn’t do the coin thing from the Mint, I didn’t do Amazon payments to my spouse or other family member, etc…. I don’t have time for that kind of stuff, and I’m really not interested in potentially drawing attention to my accounts in that way. I know it has worked for others, but it just isn’t for me. So, that leaves me with spending money the old fashioned way. While we do put pretty much all of our expenses on credit cards – many of our recurring expenses are already auto-billed to a certain card, and I have no desire to mess with that to temporarily meet the spending requirement on a new card. I would temporarily move those expenses if I absolutely had to, but I like to keep life as simple as possible. For us that means timing credit card applications with when we plan to make new purchases (or you could argue we time new purchases with credit card apps……). Anyway, I’ll give you a sneak peek into what that looked like this time for our family.
For a while now we have been delaying two thing – a good home work set-up for me, and a playroom for our kiddo. I was working on a Dell that was so old it would give me the blue screen of death just about every day – more often than that on days that got about 75 degrees in the house. My husband had done everything to keep it limping along for years, but its time had come. So, to address my needs, once we got our new The Business Gold Rewards Amex (we got it since we were targeted for a 50,000 point sign-up offer, be aware that the regular offer comes with no sign-up bonus points), we quickly placed an order for a new office table and a MacBook Air (and all the requisite Apple accessories) via the Membership Rewards portal. I’m still slowly making the transition to the Mac side of things, but my new work-at-home set-up is much better than the makeshift set-up I had before. Plus, we were quickly about $2,300 closer to our $5,000 minimum spending requirement. Note that we were not buying things just to meet the spending requirement – we were simply timing the purchases with when we got the new card. If you start making extra purchases just to hit the spending requirement, you are going about it the wrong way.
Next up was a trip to Ikea for our kiddo’s long overdue playroom. In case you have somehow missed out on the “excitement” of Ikea on a Saturday afternoon, let me save you the trouble and say DON’T DO IT! It is a madhouse in there! Somehow we survived the insanity of a weekend at Ikea, and for about $300 we now had the basics for our toddler’s new playroom. We were also now $300 closer to our $5,000 minimum spending target. For the record, that was the possibly the best $300 ever spent.
A playroom may not immediately sound very related to home office productivity, but let me tell you the two are very much linked. Happy toddler playing in a safe environment = more productive parents. Win, win. It also looks way better than just having toys scattered everywhere.
After about an hour playing in the new playroom, Little C paused and said, “I’m so happy! I’m going to do the Happy Dance!” Minimum spending requirement or not, that made it totally worth it right there.
I also have some travel reservations to make soon that should jet me even closer to the $5K mark on my new Amex. I am loving the 3x points on airfare with that card! So, just by being strategic with timing these purchases, we will easily hit our spending requirement with plenty of time to spare. Spending money is never fun (at least for me), but when you are accomplishing multiple goals at once by paying attention to timing, it does make it a bit easier. We did the same thing with the The Chase Ink Bold in November. That card also has a $5000 minimum spending requirement in the first three months, and we knew we had tons of expenses coming up in December, so it just made sense to go for it then.
Do you find yourself timing purchases with when you get new rewards credit cards that have minimum spending requirements? Do you have any others tips or tricks you are willing to share about making it easier to hit minimum spending requirements?
PS. The Apple Magic Trackpad is about the weirdest thing ever. I would have personally named it the “Mouseless Mouse”, but I guess that isn’t quite as catchy. 😉
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